Extension Survey Shows Boost in Area Subsoil Moisture Levels

Northwest Iowa — There’s been a recharge in northwest Iowa soil moisture this fall according to a survey by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

A total of 18 northwest Iowa locations are sampled. Each site selected has little or no water run-on and no ponding.

ISU Extension Field Agronomist Leah Ten Napel says the fall numbers are used a bit differently than those that are gathered in the spring.

The numbers released are inches of moisture available in the top five feet of soil. A moisture profile that’s considered to be “full” will contain about 11 inches of water available to plants.

The site near Doon is the anomaly. It had only 3.55 inches of available moisture, which is down significantly from this spring, when there was 6.65 inches, but it is up from last fall, when it was at only 1.54 inches.

The Ireton site had 5.8 inches of moisture this fall. In the spring, it was 3.15. Last fall, there was only 2.79 inches of available moisture.

The site near Sanborn had 6.75 inches of available moisture for plants this fall, up from 5.17 this spring, and up significantly from last fall, when it was only 1.17 inches.

The Sibley site had 6.31 inches this fall, up a little from 6.22 this spring, and up from 2.46 inches last fall.

While subsoil moisture levels have improved, winter conditions such as precipitation and frost depth will affect how much moisture is able to infiltrate the soil profile by springtime.

(Fellow Community First Broadcasting station KAYL in Storm Lake assisted with this story.)



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